Yamake Family fonds


general material designation


[graphic material, textual record]


5 photographic prints; 5 corresponding negatives, miscellaneous documents.






scope and content


The collection consists of two series. The first series consists of documents relating to the Yamake family business Kasuga Kashiten at 359 Powell Street as well as BC Security Commission papers. The second series consists of a collection of photographs relating to the Yamake family who eventually resettled in Kamloops, BC.




Junzo Yamake came to Canada from Ubikiyama, Shiga Ken at the age of twenty five. He apprenticed as a baker under Mr. Hayashi until he could open his own shop in 1927. He married Hatsuye Nishimura in 1928 and began a family. Hatsuye's father had three general stores in Vancouver. Shirley (Ikuko) was born August 30, 1929 in VGH, Joe (Hiroshi) was born by midwife Mrs. Watanabe in 1933 across from the King Hotel, and Betty (Fusako) was born in VGH. Junzo, a graduate from an agricultural school in Japan, came to Canada on the advice of his father who felt a future could be made in the western world. Junzo's oldest brother was the first to come and find out if Vancouver would be good, but he was unable to stay as he needed to take over the family lands in Japan when their father passed away. Junzo's rented shop was the Kasuga Kashiten at 359 Powell Street, providing delectable Japanese sweets such as manju (sweet bean cakes), mochi (pounded rice) and other confections, all hand made. Although there were several kashiten in the neighborhood such as Suzuki at 367 Powell, Nogami at 423 Powell, each one had their followers. And on Girls Day for example, Kasuga Kashiten would produce a special Sakura leaf manju (cherry blossom leaf) and mountains of mochi at New Year (Oshogatsu).



The Yamake children would begin to deliver the confections on these special occasions at the age of 7 or 8. Shirley especially liked delivering to the Black Dragon society because Mr. Morii would tip her twenty five cents and she would have a peek at the stained glass windows, electric lights, pretty girls in pretty dresses and the carpeted floors, quite a view for a little girl. The Yamake children attended Strathcona school, the Japanese Language school, Buddhist Church kindergarten, and the Buddhist Church Sunday school.



Shirley took piano lessons from Miss Naka who also taught the girls embroidery and manners through her tea parties.



When the forced removal happened, the Yamakes chose to go to Magna Bay (near Chase) in northern BC, staying with the Nabata's on a strawberry farm for about 10 days until Junzo found a house to rent in Notch Hill, not far away. They got around the regulations restricting Japanese from living within 30 miles of a railway by saying that Shirley needed to be near a doctor as she was just recovering from pneumonia. However, she did get worse and required hospitalization, but during the war, no hospitals accepted the Japanese. She ended up having to go to New Denver and be with the TB patients for a few years until her chest infection cleared.



In 1950, the family moved to Kamloops and Junzo set up his kashiten business, sending sembeh to Vancouver and as far as Alberta. Shirley helped out for about 5 years, then decided to board at the Soga's on Dundas street in Vancouver while taking the hairdressing course at Vancouver Vocational institute. She also joined the United Church Nisei fellowship in 1955, as many Japanese had returned to Vancouver. She met and married Jimmie Kakutani August 25, 1956. In 1957 Jimmie was the first Nisei to acquire a license to sell homes in the real estate business with J.P. and J.J. Roberts giving him his first job. During the war, Jimmie had gone to Montreal, and eventually worked with RCA Victor for a period before coming back to Vancouver. Jimmie was a photographer in his later years.



Shirley worked her way up at Maison Lawrence (hairdressing) in Vancouver and managed the staff for nine years and also taught hairdressing at two schools. Maison Lawrence was run by Lawrence Iwasaki. Shirley spent 42 years employed in the profession. After that she volunteered on the executive for the JCCA, Sakura so and Holy Family hospital. In 1977, she chaired a committee that raised $30,000 for Mt. St. Joseph's (giving back to the hospital that welcomed Japanese pre-war) and Holy Family (many Japanese Issei went there post stroke). As a result of those efforts, they were able to buy beds, an orthopedic surgery table and the Holy Family bus to transport patients.









Nikkei National Museum